Screw the cleaning. Make spring the time to take a trip, and blow out the cobwebs in a much more fulfilling way. Even better, shoulder seasons like spring usually offer an affordable way to combine low-season hotel rates and fewer crowds with high-season weather, a canny workaround for any value-seeking traveler.
We’ve pulled together some of the places to visit in March, including some cherry blossom–spotting sites that might surprise you, a glorious festival in Asia that will bring out your inner five-year-old, and the art fair you might not have known about—but should.
Here are the 10 best places to visit in March.
1. Riviera Maya, Mexico
March is great for: a twice-a-year, centuries-old phenomenon
Twice a year, visitors to the myth-wreathed Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá can see the snake Kukulkan appear, in shadow form. It’s only on the spring and fall equinox (March 20 and September 23, respectively) that the feather snake deity of legend appears on the steps. It slowly descends as the sun sets, eventually connecting with the stone serpent head that sits at the base of the great staircase here—which has one step for every day of the year.
The ferocious creature might be front of mind right now thanks to two recent pop culture moments. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, antagonist Namor earned the nickname of Kukulkan from his subjects, while a hooliganish tourist with a tasteless thirst for TikTok renown scaled an off-limits area here in November, earning a fine and precisely the wrong kind of fame as a result.
The equinox celebrations, which also see Indigenous pilgrims coming to the site to celebrate, are the perfect impetus to explore the extraordinary ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site. They’re anchored by the world’s largest pyramid by volume, but there’s more to see than this towering structure. Take the ball court here, the largest known in the Americas at 554 feet long, where a high-stakes basketball-like game was played through hoops set into the walls; the losers were executed.
Where to stay in Riviera Maya: Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya
- Book now: Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya
The adults-only Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya just opened in December on a 70-acre site with a 1.5-acre white-sand beach. All 291 rooms of the upscale, all-inclusive hotel feature private outdoor space.
How to get to Riviera Maya
CUN airport is the region’s hub and has service on airlines from Spirit to JetBlue, to most major U.S. cities.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
March is great for: unbuckling your belt a notch or two
Lowcountry cooking, from chicken bog to she-crab soup, is always a reason to visit Charleston, its eclectic influences a nod to the cosmopolitan nature of the city in the earliest colonial times. A key aspect of this cuisine is the expertise of the many enslaved Gullah people who worked as cooks in family homes here. They would tweak and adjust British staples with West African ingredients, producing dishes that were distinctly of this region.
No wonder, then, that the Holy City’s five-day Food & Wine Festival (March 1–5, 2023) is one of the country’s finest, especially since it decamped to Riverfront Park last year. The programming for 2023 retains many of the regular components, like mollusk-boosting, hands-on demo slash tasting Shuck It, and the bar takeovers, which debuted last year.
In 2023, the fair will add new elements, too: the Community Table program, for example, where half of the tickets for this wine-and-food banquet will be sold while the other seats will be filled by Tina Singleton, who runs the seven-year-old nonprofit Transformation Table, which centers on fostering community via intimate dinners.
Where to stay in Charleston: Mills House Hotel
- Book now: Mills House Hotel
The Mills House Hotel on the corner of Meeting and Queen streets dates back to 1853, but it’s just undergone a multimillion-dollar overhaul, which saw its rooms renovated and a new rooftop terrace and bar, among other upgrades.
How to get to Charleston
You can take a direct nonstop flight to CHS from more than two dozen U.S. gateways, including Alaska Airlines from Seattle and Southwest from Austin.
3. Jaipur, India
March is great for: celebrating Holi in full color.
March 7 is the Hindu festival of Holi, when adherents celebrate the triumph of good over evil. For everyone else, it’s a joyous chance to unleash your inner child: Holi is marked by a tradition where people throw brightly colored powder or water over each other, like a rainbow shower—no wonder it’s nicknamed the Festival of Colors.
If you want to experience this firsthand, head to Jaipur, the ultimate brightly colored backdrop: The Pink City was painted so in the 1850s, using the color of hospitality to welcome a visit from the son of then-Empress of India, Queen Victoria. Take an electric rickshaw tour led by one of the ladies from the nonprofit Pink City Rickshaw Company to see the major sights like Hawa Mahal Palace or the Amrapali Museum, which focuses on Indian craftsmanship, especially jewelry—Jaipur has been a gem-cutting hub for centuries.
Where to stay in Jaipur: Rambagh Palace
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Stay in a hotel fit for this gem-obsessed city: the domed, loggia-fringed hotel equipped with 33 grand suites and 45 hotel rooms, Rambagh Palace, which sits in 60 acres of gardens. It’s a former royal palace converted into a hotel by India’s Taj group.
How to get to Jaipur
The direct nonstop services to India are resuming—there’s a 15-hour or so flight from JFK to DEL from both American and United, for example—but the comfiest option for the country is connecting via Dubai on Emirates (which serves a dozen North American airports) before hopping a local carrier like IndiGo.
4. The Netherlands
March is great for: browsing art like a billionaire
Forget Art Basel. The grande dame of art shindigs is TEFAF, which holds its 36th edition this March in Maastricht duirng March 11–19. (VIPs can browse for two days in advance.) It’s far less showbizzy than its Miami counterpart, and the focus is broader, going beyond contemporary to art from any time in the past 7,000 years.
The 10-day fair (call it Maastricht, which is how it’s known among the arterati) is noteworthy for its stringent admission criteria, with a 175-strong judging panel overseeing items for sale in an attempt to keep low-quality riffraff and full-on fakes off the show floor.
The buyers here are an assortment of the world’s richest, which also means that the 268 dealers at the show bring out their best pieces. It has a particular reputation for superb, often hitherto unseen Old Masters. Even if you can’t stretch to splurging a few million on a portrait, browsing those booths is like a Greatest Hits of the world’s finest museums.
Where to stay in the Netherlands: Hotel Monastère Maastricht
- Book now: Hotel Monastère Maastricht
The four-star, 52-room Hotel Monastère Maastricht, housed in a converted monastery that dates back to the 14th century, is an affordable option. Rooms are small (little wonder, given its original purpose), but well designed; all of the major sights are easily accessible on foot.
How to get to the Netherlands
KLM flies directly to Amsterdam from New York, as well as 10 other gateways, including LAS, MIA, and MSP. Hop on one of Holland’s easy-to-use trains to connect down to Maastricht in about two hours.
5. Macon, Georgia
March is great for: blossom spotting in an unlikely locale
Mention cherry blossoms and two places likely to come to mind: Japan and Washington, D.C. (whose cherry trees were planted, initially, as a gift from Japan). But what about a city in central Georgia instead? Its haul of Yoshino cherry trees dwarfs that in D.C., in fact—there are 350,000 of them versus barely 4,000 further north. The blooming forest is here because of one local real estate magnate, William Fickling Sr., who stumbled on one in his backyard in 1949. He only recognized his rare find after a business trip to D.C. Soon he was breeding and giving away the trees, encouraging everyone to plant one to prettify the town. (It likely didn’t hurt that such efforts would also increase local property values.)
The 10-day celebration here was established to honor him and has been held for more than 40 years. From March 17 to 26, the self-proclaimed Pinkest Party on Earth includes an annual mattress race down Cherry Street, plus coronations for various princesses and queens of the fest. Local restaurants will launch special menus and cocktails, especially via the new Drink Your Pink contest. Even if you can’t make it down there, log onto the Bloom Cam, which will operate during the festival dates and offers a feed of the flowers for everyone everywhere.
Where to stay in Macon: Hotel Forty Five
- Book now: Hotel Forty Five
The name of the barely year-old, 94-room Hotel Forty Five is a giveaway: The historic district–located property across from the Macon Auditorium is music obsessed, right down to the names of the cocktails at its rooftop bar (try a Drink One for Me, via Jason Aldean).
How to get to Macon
Delta’s worldwide hub—and still the world’s busiest airport—ATL is 75 miles away; the carrier connects it with every corner of the USA.
6. Puerto Rico
March is great for: a chance to sample some rums that punch above their weight
The world’s most famous rum, Bacardi, is produced on this Caribbean island (even though the namesake family is originally Cuban), making the sweet, punchy spirit synonymous with the good life here. Indeed, bartender Ramon Marrero invented the piña colada for a cocktail contest in 1954 in Puerto Rico. (Well, sort of, as the recipe we use today was likely a riff on a drink that had been glugged here since pirate times.)
Enjoy a few of his creations, or a straight snifter or two, at the Taste of Rum festival, which celebrates its 12th anniversary on March 25. This one-day event is the region’s biggest rum-boosting bash and a chance to sample two dozen different locally produced brands, all while being serenaded by homegrown bands, from steel to salsa. Master classes for those keen to finesse their knowledge of the finer points of quaffing are available, too, plus stalls with arts and crafts for sale as souvenirs. Tickets start at $55 per person.
Where to stay in Puerto Rico: Caribe Hilton
- Book now: Caribe Hilton
Where else to stay but the hotel where bartender Marrero whipped up his prize-winning piña colada? The Caribe Hilton sits on its own 17-acre peninsula just outside Old San Juan, the ideal perch to idle away the day with a rum drink (or two—we’re not judging).
How to get to Puerto Rico
SJU is a regional hub for this corner of the Caribbean, so you can find a direct nonstop from many eastern seaboard cities, including Hartford, Connecticut, and Tampa.
7. Ubud, Bali
March is great for: contemplation and celebration
The Indonesian island of Bali is an outlier in its country, an effective autonomous state, mostly thanks to its religion—Hinduism is a powerful force here, and far more than a religion, as its precepts and practices shape key elements of daily life. One such example comes on March 22, at the Balinese New Year festival of Nyepi, the Hindu holiday that is observed as a day of silence after the riotous partying of Ogoh-Ogoh the night before. (Compare, for example, Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday in New Orleans.)
Come here for this experience, and you can spend Ogoh-Ogoh carousing with the locals, as local groups build those namesake statues to be paraded around; they’re usually monsters and evil spirits such as the witch-like Barong. Music and beating on pots or pans is part of the ritual before those effigies are burnt to scare off the evil they represent. The next day, expect a drastic change, as the word nyepi is derived from a root that means quiet or still. The entire country comes to a halt, with roads empty and the airport shuttered, for a 24-hour period of contemplation and self-reflection. This pause is shattered the next day with another day of partying, with rituals including the Kissing Ceremony, which pairs unmarried people and challenges them to kiss in celebration.
Where to stay in Ubud: Mandapa
- Book now: Mandapa
Ritz Carlton’s, well, ritzy upscale sibling brand Reserve operates a tiny clutch of ultra-luxe spots worldwide, including Mandapa in Bali, a 35-room property whose design is inspired by a traditional Balinese village.
How to get to Bali
Bali is a long haul from North America however you choose to route, and there are no direct flights. Best to opt for one of the carriers that connects disparate destinations, like Turkish Airlines via Istanbul or Emirates via Dubai. Both those companies service more than a dozen North American cities.
8. Austin, Texas
March is great for: confabbing with the world’s smartest minds
From March 10 to 19, SXSW will hijack the ATX for its distinctive blend of tech, media, and music. It’s part festival, part conference, part exhibition (no wonder an all-access pass costs $1,395 per person): Walk around town, for example, and drop into pop-up art showcases and drinking dens, or purchase a ticket to attend some of the panels, where dozens of different topics are riffed over by a raft of need-to-see speakers. Patagonia do-gooder Ryan Gellert is one of the keynoters for 2023 while other bold-facers who’ll be talking this year include bad boy chef and Momofuku founder David Chang, marketing professor Scott Galloway, and reefer advocate Cheech Marin.
Those panels and lectures are complemented with an in-depth musical lineup, which deliberately focuses on an eclectic, culture-spanning assortment of performers. Catch London-based Nigerian Afro-popper Obongjayar, as well as Taipei-based deca and 1960s Brit rockers the Zombies. There’s even classical piano from Tokio Myers.
Where to stay in Austin: Austin Motel
- Book now: Austin Motel
The funky Austin Motel is a hipsterish redo of an old drive-in spot on buzzy South Congress, with many of the best local restaurants and shops within walking distance. Don’t forget to take an Instagram selfie against the wallpaper in the room, too.
How to get to Austin
AUS is a Southwest hub, with direct flights to San Diego, Los Angeles, and more, plus regular service on the likes of American and JetBlue to New York, Chicago, and Miami.
9. Edmonton, Canada
March is great for: homegrown delights from the hop-growing hub of Canada
More than 16,000 square miles of the Canadian province of Alberta are prairies, and one key crop grown in this vast landscape is barley. On March 10–11, the product of prairie-grown barley is celebrated via the local Craft Beer festival (call it Brewmonton). There’s a thriving craft beer scene here mostly thanks to the change in law back in 2014, which removed a cap on small producers; as a result, there are now more than 100 operating in the province.
This two-day fest celebrates their output, with tastings as well as seminars and cooking demos—you could even earn an MBA (Masters of Beer University). Day passes start at CAD$20 while weekend-long entry is CAD$35 per person. Try brews from the Alley Kat Brewing Company, Red Shed Malting malt house, or a pale ale from the father-son-run Six Corners Brew Works.
Where to stay in Edmonton: Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
- Book now: Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
The 198-room Fairmont Hotel Macdonald is a classic château-inspired hotel in the heart of the city right on the river dating back to 1915.
How to get to Edmonton
Thirteen U.S. gateways are directly connected with YEG here, including Maui, Hawai‘i, Nashville, Tennessee, and Tucson, Arizona; they’re served by a raft of airlines, including WestJet and Air Flair.
10. Kyoto, Japan
March is great for: homegrown hanami spotting
This year is the first time since 2019 that international visitors can experience hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, firsthand in Japan. There’s no fixed date, of course, but it’s expected to peak in late March in the south of the country, in and around Kyoto. The historic city, with many UNESCO-listed ancient temples and monuments, is one of the best places to experience sakura season. Come here to meander down the footpath by the river known as the Philosopher’s Path to the Silver Temple or Ginkakuji; because it’s lined with trees, the surface of the water will be carpeted with color. The city is postcard-pretty before that, though, thanks to the surfeit of umeor plum blossoms, which burst into flower early in the month. See a forest of 2,000 such trees at the Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine, or escape the crowds at the secret garden, Shosei-en, a short walk from the main train station in the heart of town.
Just don’t mistake hanami for some reflective religious rite: This is a riotous time to be in Japan, as locals spread out picnics under the boughs of blossoming trees and spend the day drinking and carousing with friends. (Kimonos are optional, but expect to see more of them now than at most other times of the year.)
Where to stay in Kyoto: Hoshinoya Kyoto
- Book now: Hoshinoya Kyoto
Think of Hoshinoya Kyoto as a contemporary riff on a classic ryokan, combining the charm of this Japanese inn with a few more creature comforts than might be traditional—think fluffier mattresses than a standard futon.
How to get to Kyoto
Bafflingly, for such a major tourist hub, Kyoto doesn’t have its own airport. The nearest touchdown is ITM in Osaka, which is about an hour’s drive away. United serves ITM directly from SFO, or you can connect via HND in Tokyo on JAL from ORD or LAX.